On Friday, January 29, 2010 President Obama spoke at the Republican's two day retreat in Maryland and afterward took questions from them. One question, from Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia, revolved around taking care of the Coal interests in her state. If you want to just see the question from the W.V. Congresswoman it starts around 19 minutes, 12 seconds, and can be seen by following this link. She asked (paraphrased by me while listening to the question):
".... I represent the state of West Virgina. We are resource rich. We have a lot of coal and natural gas. But my miners and the folks who are working and those who are unemployed are very concerned about some of your policies in these areas. Cap and Trade, an aggressive EPA, and uh, the looming prospect of higher taxes; in our minds, these are job killing policies. So I'm asking you if you would be willing to re-look at some of these policies with the high unemployment and the unsure economy that we have now, to ensure West Virginians that you are listening."
Obama then goes on to describe how he supports "clean coal" and a comprehensive energy policy. He states how he supports nuclear energy and "increased energy production". But he then goes on to describe how Clean Energy is good for America. Below are snippets of his comment that I wrote down while listening to the conversation on YouTube.
We have to plan for the future. And the future is that Clean Energy -cleaner forms of energy - are going to be increasingly important. Because even if folks are still skeptical about Climate Change in our politics and in Congress, the world isn't skeptical about it.
If we're not leading, those other countries are going to be leading.
"There is going to have to be some transition. We can't operate the coal industry in the United States as if we are still in the 1920's...."
"A well-thought through policy of incentivising "the new" while recognizing there is going to be a transition process and we're not just suddenly putting "the old" out of business right away; that has to something that both Republicans and Democrats have to embrace."
So here is my message to Congresswoman Capito:
In response to your concerns about the coal and natural gas industry in your state, I understand that this is your job. You have to stand up for the people who put you in office. But the President's job isn't to look after West Virginia. His job is to look after the best interests of the United States of America. You ask, "What about West Virginia?". I ask, "What about America?!!!". You think that Coal is going to lead us into the next global economic boom? You think mountain-top coal mining is going to make America a global economic powerhouse?
Keep focusing on the coal miners and fossil fuel industry because you have to appease those who paid for your campaign, but don't drag the rest of America down with you. A Clean Energy future is in America's best interests. Not only because it will make us more secure, more efficient, more environmentally friendly; but because it will make us more money when we sell all of these innovative Clean Energy technologies to the countries in the world who don't have reserves of coal under the Appalachian mountains.
Here is the entire speech and below is the clip for the hour long Q&A session.